The paintings of Neil Keith Baker are developed via his tussle with the various elements within them. Numerous shapes come into being, some of them coalescing into ‘solidified’ forms, whilst others become obscured by subsequent layers of paint, as the painting progresses.
Baker is not interested in presenting any narrative imagery, although some forms may eventually suggest certain elements to the viewer. The artist states: “in the studio, activity gives rise to objects that hopefully don’t have a model [but] do have some kind of spirit. The final object should be a manifestation rather than a representation…. even if the meaning of that feeling isn’t immediately available to the viewer, or even myself, the artist.”
It could be said that Baker deals with the poetry of suggestion. Writing in Poetics Today, Vol. 8, No. 1 (1987), Anthony L Johnson states:
A poetic of statement derives from the signified, whose messages will tend to be readily accessible to consciousness, whereas a poetic of suggestion derives from the signifier, whose messages will tend to operate on a pre-conscious plane but to penetrate the psyche all the more deeply because of the signifier’s resistance to analytic formulation.
Baker pursues the resulting (non)images with delight, teasing them into being or occluding them over time, continuously reworking images until they are just right, whilst retaining their freshness and uniqueness in each canvas. He is constantly searching for the moment when the painting takes on its own identity and momentum – the moment when it announces itself as its own ‘thing’.
Having recently arrived in Australia after spending some years in Hamburg and Munich, Baker’s work is in part a response to a new environment. He speaks of being struck by the ‘newness’ of the situation, and bemused by the “deep, surreal absurdity of the European culture imposed upon this landscape.”